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Paper shredders are a good addition to any office. They are fast to use, easy to empty and provide security that’s not possible otherwise. It’s not uncommon for both businesses and individuals to fall victim to scams and identity crimes because of stolen information.

For this reason, it’s crucial for you to correctly shred papers with important, personal data on them. This includes both your sensitive information and that of your clients, if applicable. Let’s look at what else you can gain by owning a paper shredder.

Benefits of Owning a Paper Shredder

Shredding documents offers a unique peace of mind, ensuring that you no longer have to worry about your information being leaked to the wrong people. In a place of business, it provides you with a method to protect your customers’ sensitive information. Here are a few other advantages of owning one:

  • Instant Results: Adding this tool to your desk allows you to shred sensitive information in just a few moments, so you don’t have to do it manually with scissors.
  • It’s Better for the Environment: When you recycle the paper you’ve shredded, the garbage can be used again to produce eco-friendly paper. This not only saves landfill space but protects virgin forests.
  • Reliability: Using a paper shredder is the most convenient and reliable way to destroy important information, compared with other methods.

Types of Paper Shredders

There are three main types of paper shredders most commonly used for personal and smaller business purposes:

Micro-Cut Paper Shredders

This style of paper shredder reduces your pages to thousands of tiny particles and is used by government organizations. However, this type is usually the most expensive. We will cover one micro-cut paper shredder in our list.

Cross-Cut Paper Shredders

This type of shredder produces confetti-like slices of paper. The paper shreds come in varying options, including 1/32 inches and 3/8 inches wide. Since cross-cut shredders are easy to find and affordable, they are one of the top choices for buyers.

Strip-Cut Paper Shredders

paper strips from a strip shredder

Paper Strips from a Shredder

A strip-cut machine produces long strips of paper with a rotating blade. Some machines cut the long strips into shorter 1″ strips like the ones pictured.  These types are slightly better than the long strip type, but still leave some of the document visible.

Although this shredder is the simplest to use, it’s also the least secure and should only be used for less sensitive information. 

The Best Paper Shredder Under $100

Here are some of the best budget options suitable for home and small office use. For larger capacity heavy duty options, check out our review of commercial units.

Best Budget Option

The AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder

If affordability is one of your main concerns, the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Shredder is our best budget choice. It turns your paper into small strips very quickly and may also be used to get rid of insurance information, pay stubs from work receipts, credit card statements, and bills. This shredder even works without removing small paper clips and staples, saving you time.

If you need to shred debit or credit cards, pass them through one at a time. As a safety feature, the AmazonBasics cross-cut shredder will only shred when the can is properly aligned on the machine.

And as suggested by the name of this product, it easily shreds six papers at once. If you accidentally add more and the machine slows down or jams, just activate the reverse switch.

Best Performing

The Fellowes Powershred 49-C 8-Sheet Shredder

Although it isn’t the cheapest on our list, the Fellowes Powershred 49C 8-Sheet Cross-cut shredder quickly shreds confidential credit cards, documents, and will even cut through paper clips and staples. The machine can take eight sheets at a time and works for five minutes before needing a half-hour cooling period.

If you’re in the middle of shredding paper when it needs to cool off, it will stop on its own and then resume again. While other shredders can be noisy and leave white debris around the room, the Fellowes Powershred will eradicate those issues. The shredder has a 4-gallon bin included and comes with a year-long product warranty.

Best for High-Volume Shredding

Bonsaii DocShred C-156-D 12 Sheet

The Bonsaii DocShred C156-D is equipped with a 5.5-gallon bin and is, therefore, better suited for shredding more paper (up to 12 sheets). It also comes with a window so you can see how full it’s getting while you use it. It not only shreds paper documents but can also handle credit cards and even DVDs or CDs. It will shred A4-size paper quickly, leaving behind 5x45mm paper pieces.

Complete with a handle that makes emptying the wastebasket easy, this shredder also automatically starts when you begin feeding paper into it. The handle is well-placed and makes using it easy and simple, preventing spills. It also has a manual reverse feature for clearing the feed when you’ve accidentally inserted too much and caused a jam.

The Bonsaii DocShred won’t overheat as it comes with an overheating protection system. Before getting too hot, it shuts down to cool off for 40 minutes, effectively protecting the motor from damage. The DocShred is not only effective but quieter than other similar machines. The tool produces shredded paper that would be very difficult for scammers to reassemble as it turns out ragged and bent.

Best for Quiet Offices

Sentinel FM101P Micro-Cut Shredder

For those who need the peace of mind of their sensitive information being as obliterated as possible, while still staying within the budget, there’s the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder. This medium-duty option has an automatic start/stop function so you can just leave it on and feed paper in at your own pace.

Like the other machines on our list, this paper shredder comes with a manual reverse option to solve jamming. The wastebasket has a 3.5-gallon capacity that is simple and easy to empty and doesn’t need any plastic bags. Instead of having to remove the entire top of the shredder, you can just pull the basket out when emptying.

The shredder has casters so it’s easy to move between rooms or locations. This machine can shred without ever jamming or getting too hot as long as you follow the guidelines for how to use it. Overall, the price is extremely fair for what you get.

Best Compact Paper Shredder

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Shredder

If you liked the sound of the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet model we mentioned earlier in the article but need a bit of a larger capacity, this may be the right option for you. The Amazon Basics 8 Sheet Cross Cut Paper and Credit Card Shredder with 4.1 Gallon Bin, Black is a cross-cut machine that produces tiny pieces of paper instead of long strips (which are easier for criminals to reassemble and steal data from).

There is a security lock that activates when you remove the top of the shredder for your safety and the machine itself is nice and compact. This is perfect for people with a limited desk or office space.

Like the other shredders on this list, this machine automatically starts and will stop by itself if you stop inserting paper. You may also disable this auto-feature if you prefer to.

This paper shredder comes with a transparent window so you can see when it’s time to empty out the wastebasket. It shreds documents, credit cards, and unopened mail with cards inside.

This is your chance to get rid of old stacks of mail that you felt uneasy about throwing away but want to get rid of. Knowing that the shreds are cross-cut will ease your mind as those pieces of paper would be nearly impossible to put back together.

The AmazonBasics 8-sheet cross-cut shredder can handle eight sheets at a time, but make sure you aren’t feeding them through for more than three minutes in a row. In order to prevent overheating, there is an indicator light to warn you to stop shredding and let the machine cool off.

Overall, this paper shredder is a good value and won’t make a lot of noise in your home office or at work.

3 Quick Tips for Proper Paper Shredding

It’s easy to shred paper, but there are some tips that can make it even safer and smoother for you. What documents should you hold onto for a while before shredding them, and which ones are better to get rid of as soon as possible? Here are some tips to consider next time you need to shred some pages:

  • What to Keep: Banking information, along with investment, tax, or contract data should be shredded, but only if you are sure you won’t need them in the future. Keep in mind though, that these documents that will likely be needed for reference later on, at least for a period of time. Keep anything you think an auditor or accountant may want to look at in the future.  If you have digital versions, or can readily access them, then shred away.
  • Proper Storage: But you shouldn’t just keep that sensitive information in your kitchen drawer. Instead, lock up any vulnerable data that could put you at risk for identity theft in a safe or other lockable container.
  • Junk Mail: You should shred junk mail as soon as possible instead of keeping it around in piles. Also get rid of jotted down notes as these may contain safe combinations or passwords that you don’t want anyone else to see.

Maintaining your shredder

Proper maintenance will help keep your shredder in good working order.  Here are some tips to keep it running smoothly

  • Periodically lubricate the blades
  • Avoid shredding plastic (credit cards or CD’s) unless the shredder is specifically designed for it.
  • Avoid overheating by shredding smaller stacks of paper and periodically letting the motors cool down. For large jobs, consider a heavy-duty shredder.

If you do happen to jam your shredder, here’s our guide for unclogging it.

Shredding paper can be surprisingly fun. Just make sure to observe the guidelines above and you’ll ensure that it’s a secure process.